WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
LinkedIn Corporation v. Direct Privacy, Domain Name Proxy Service, Inc Privacy ID# 14400982
Case No. D2016-2216
1. The Parties
Complainant is LinkedIn Corporation of Mountain View, California, United States of America ("United States"), represented by The GigaLaw Firm, Douglas M. Isenberg, Attorney at Law, LLC, United States.
Respondent is Direct Privacy, Domain Name Proxy Service, Inc Privacy ID# 14400982 of Metairie, Louisiana, United States.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <linkedininvestors.com> is registered with DNC Holdings, Inc. (the "Registrar").
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the "Center") on November 1, 2016. On November 1, 2016, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrar a request for registrar verification in connection with the disputed domain name. On the same date, the Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details.
The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy" or "UDRP"), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Rules"), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Supplemental Rules").
In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2 and 4, the Center formally notified Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on November 10, 2016. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was November 30, 2016. Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified Respondent's default on December 1, 2016.
The Center appointed Georges Nahitchevansky as the sole panelist in this matter on December 16, 2016. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with the Rules, paragraph 7.
4. Factual Background
Complainant LinkedIn Corporation operates one of the world's largest professional networks on the Internet, with more than 450 million members in over 200 countries. Complainant became a publicly traded company on May 18, 2011 and trades on the New York Stock Exchange. Complainant has its headquarters in Mountain View, California, United States, and maintains offices in 30 cities around the world. Complainant's primary website is at "www.linkedin.com", which is considered to be amongst the top 15 most popular websites in the world. Complainant also operates its professional network through websites in 24 languages.
Complainant owns numerous trademark registrations for the LINKEDIN mark in the United States, the earliest of which dates back to March 28, 2006, and has submitted as Annex 11 copies of such registrations. Complainant also owns trademark registrations in the United States for the mark LINKEDIN.COM as well as for a stylized version of the LINKEDIN mark (the "LINKEDIN Logo")
Respondent registered the disputed domain name on June 24, 2016 and has used such for a website that purports to operate as a network for finding investors for business funding, real estate and venture capital.
5. Parties' Contentions
Complainant contends that is has strong rights in the LINKEDIN mark on account of its use of the mark for a professional network on the Internet since 2003 and by virtue of the numerous trademark registrations that Complainant owns for the LINKEDIN mark and LINKEDIN Logo in the United States and elsewhere. Complainant also asserts that the LINKEDIN mark has achieved significant success and recognition as Complainant's professional network currently consists of over 450 million members in over 200 countries.
Complainant maintains that the <linkedininvestors.com> disputed domain name is identical and/or confusingly similar to Complainant's LINKEDIN mark because it contains the LINKEDIN mark in its entirety. Complainant also contends that the inclusion in the disputed domain name of the descriptive term "investors" creates confusion because the term when used with the LINKEDIN mark suggests a relationship with Complainant.
Complainant argues that Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name as (i) Complainant has never granted, licensed, sold or transferred or in any way authorized Respondent to use the LINKEDIN mark; (ii) Respondent's use of the disputed domain name for a website with commercial links to third-party websites does not constitute a bona fide offering of goods and services; (iii) Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name; and (iv) Respondent is using the disputed domain name to misleadingly divert consumers to a commercial website that consists primarily of advertisements and sponsored links for Respondent's own benefit.
Lastly, Complainant asserts that Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith as Respondent's actions demonstrate that Respondent was aware of the LINKEDIN mark when Respondent registered and began using the disputed domain name. Respondent, for example, has included a copy of the LINKEDIN Logo on the website posted at the disputed domain name and has used the disputed domain name to resolve to a website that purports to offer networking services for business fundraising. Given Respondent's actions, and Complainant's longstanding rights in the LINKEDIN mark, Complainant argues that Respondent's actions suggest "opportunistic bad faith" and a clear attempt to create confusion and to capitalize on the worldwide reputation of the LINKEDIN mark.
Respondent did not reply to Complainant's contentions.
6. Discussion and Findings
Under paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, to succeed Complainant must satisfy the Panel that:
(i) the disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights;
(ii) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and
(iii) the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
Ownership of a trademark registration is generally sufficient evidence that a complainant has the requisite rights in a mark for purposes of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy. WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Second Edition ("WIPO Overview 2.0"), paragraph 1.1. Complainant has provided ample evidence that it owns trademark registrations for the LINKEDIN mark in the United States since March 2006.
With Complainant's rights in the LINKEDIN mark established, the remaining question under the first element of the Policy is whether the disputed domain name (typically disregarding the generic Top-Level Domain ".com") is identical or confusingly similar with Complainant's mark. B & H Foto & Electronics Corp. v. Domains by Proxy, Inc. / Joseph Gross, WIPO Case No. D2010-0842. The <linkedininvestors.com> disputed domain name is confusingly similar to the LINKEDIN mark as it incorporates the LINKEDIN mark in its entirety. The addition of the generic term "investors" at the tail of the disputed domain name does not diminish the confusing similarity and, in fact, may suggest that the disputed domain name is an additional or new network for investors or business fundraising created or sanctioned by Complainant, the operator of the well-known LINKEDIN professional network. The Panel therefore finds that Complainant has satisfied the requirements of paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy in establishing its rights in the LINKEDIN mark and in showing that the disputed domain name is confusingly similar to that trademark.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Under paragraph 4(a)(ii) of the Policy, the complainant must make a prima facie showing that the respondent possesses no rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name. Malayan Banking Berhad v. Beauty, Success & Truth International, WIPO Case No. D2008-1393. Once the complainant makes such a prima facie showing, the burden of production shifts to the respondent, though the burden of proof always remains on the complainant. If the respondent fails to come forward with evidence showing rights or legitimate interests, the complainant will have sustained its burden under the second element of the UDRP.
From the uncontested record in this case, it is evident that Respondent was, and is, well aware of Complainant and its LINKEDIN mark and does not have any rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name. Respondent has not made any bona fide or fair use of the disputed domain name in connection with any product or service. Rather, Respondent has used the disputed domain name to direct web users to a website that provides advertisements and sponsored links to third parties for business funding, venture capital and the like. Notably, Respondent's website at the disputed domain name features Complainant's LINKEDIN Logo and contains language that in the aggregate suggests that the website is either connected to Complainant or is sanctioned by Complainant, when such is not the case. Such use of the disputed domain name for purposes of creating confusion between Respondent's website and Complainant does not, and cannot, constitute a bona fide use or legitimate interest and, at best, is a blatant attempt by Respondent to capitalize on the reputation of the LINKEDIN mark.
Given that Complainant has established with sufficient evidence that it owns rights in the LINKEDIN mark, and given Respondent's above noted actions and failure to file a response, the Panel concludes that Respondent does not have a right or legitimate interest in the disputed domain name and that none of the circumstances of paragraph 4(c) of the Policy are evident in this case.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy provides a non-exhaustive list of circumstances indicating bad faith registration and use on the part of a domain name registrant, namely:
"(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out of pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or
(ii) you have registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or
(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or
(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your website or location or of a product or service on your website or location."
In the present case, Respondent has registered a domain name that fully incorporates Complainant's LINKEDIN mark in conjunction with the common word "investors" for a purported network for business fundraising. Such combination creates a likelihood of confusion by suggesting to consumers that the disputed domain name relates to Complainant or is sanctioned by Complainant. Given that Respondent has even included the LINKEDIN Logo on the website posted at the disputed domain name there can be no doubt that Respondent was well aware of Complainant and its LINKEDIN mark when Respondent registered the disputed domain name in June 2016.
In view of Respondent's commercial activities on the website posted at the disputed domain name, Complainant's prior-existing rights in the LINKEDIN mark and Respondent's failure to file a response, the Panel can only infer that Respondent specifically targeted Complainant and its LINKEDIN mark, and has done so opportunistically and in bad faith. Accordingly, the Panel finds that Complainant succeeds under this element of the Policy.
For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the disputed domain name <linkedininvestors.com> be transferred to Complainant.
Date: January 4, 2016